On the other side of the hot tub and in the corner of the outdoor patio of the Men’s Health Center is an infrared sauna, beautifully made of birch. It complements the dry room and the steam room saunas that I typically sit in before a massage. They have a dry sauna and steam room in the Women’s Health Center and the Villas Health Center, too. The difference between these three de-stressing portals of relaxation is in the heating and materials.
The infrared sauna is a wooden room that’s heated by infrared lights that penetrate the body and warm you from the inside. This dry-heat room is brought to a toasty range of 115°-130° F. Rancho La Puerta Spa Director Tere Ochoa recommends lounging in the sauna for 20-30 minutes since the infrared room does not get as hot as the steam room. “Infrared heats the body with a tuned bandwidth of ‘sunlight,’” says Tere. “It matches our own human body bio-frequency, so it heats the body more deeply, heating more body mass and raising the core temperature.” You get the benefits of heat without the intensity of the steam or dry sauna.
The tiled steam room is one of my favorites. It’s sealed to keep the moisture in and heated by a steam generator between 170°-200° F. Tere recommends relaxing in the heat facilities for 15-20 minutes before a massage. The quietness in the room also makes it one of my favorite places for a 20-minute meditation. The steam and eucalyptus oil form a dense cloud that moistures my sinuses and seems to melt away any stressful thoughts or muscle knots. For me, it’s like a respiratory massage, and I’m able to breathe a little easier afterward. When I walk out of the spa, the air feels crisp and fresh. If I get to the Men’s Health Center with enough time, I like to sit for ten minutes in the steam room, take a minute break to get a glass of water, take a cool fresh water rinse in the shower, and repeat for a couple cycles.
The third room is a dry sauna. The difference is literally in the humidity. This room has wood benches and wood lined walls with a heater full of rocks and a bucket of water. If you prefer a wet sauna, you can ladle a bit of water on the rocks, and the steam will fill the room and raise the temperature. Viola! A wet sauna. After a few minutes in the dry sauna, I sometimes douse the hot rocks with water to create a little steam, and then dump a ladle-full of water on my head to keep cool as the temperature rises. “It is essential to drink at least eight ounces of water before and after each session,” Tere says. “And,” she adds, “it’s better to wait awhile to eat after being in the saunas, and not before, to avoid any disruptions to your digestion.”
No matter which type of heat facility I chose, it pretty much guarantees that my Ranch Classic Massage, Happy Hands and Feet, or Scalp Massage will be profoundly effective and turn my body into a blissful container of joy.